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With each passing day, his value will drop and Pollard’s will rise. We're getting close to a point where Elliott playing Week 1 becomes unlikely, and at that point, as many as six weeks out becomes a lot more likely than before we hit that threshold. Elliott is worth a second-round pick even if we factor in six missed games as Mike Florio speculated and there’s still a non-zero chance Elliott plays Week 1, or shows after Week 1. Week 2 coming and going without Elliott showing up would be more alarming, but a “worst-case scenario” here still likely results in half a season from Elliott and one that would feature the heaviest usage of his career in maybe the best overall surroundings.
It’s pure guesswork, but this still feels like a situation to err on the side of taking Elliott, including in the first round, accompanied with a slight reach for Pollard, or otherwise building a running back group in your draft with a #3 you’d feel comfortable starting early in the season.
Other backs/plans that fit a Zeke build:
Take two in between the 2nd-4th. This gives the potential for the killer feature back flex, and the wide receiver depth in the 5th-9th and real potential for three #1 backs in good situations for the stretch run. A plethora of upside backs in the third and Chris Carson or Sony Michel in the fourth really make this an attractive angle.
Duke Johnson Jr, HOU - Uncertainty about what Houston will do at running back introduces some risk that he will be joined by a back that diminishes his outlook, but there’s just as much chance that they add a replaceable backup type like Carlos Hyde and Johnson’s value gets another boost. He’s good. Deshaun Watson is good. This should be good.
Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, LAC - This is a way to put a chip on the Melvin Gordon holdout, and Ekeler was better when Gordon was in last year anyway, so you’re covered. A poor offensive line could mean more passing to running backs, which would boost Ekeler. Jackson is a riskier play than Ekeler but could have enough involvement to be an RB2 bandaid cheap with Ekeler and Gordon injury upside still built in.
Latavius Murray, NO - I’m not targeting Murray because of his limited ceiling, but he looks to be as involved as Mark Ingram was and the Saints and that gives him a reasonable ceiling and floor to endure while you wait for Elliott. I’d take Pollard over Murray.
Matt Breida, SF - Draft Breida at ADP as part of any plan. He looks better than Tevin Coleman, and if Kyle Shanahan agrees, then Breida could start hot against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. There’s an argument for Coleman here too, but he costs more and isn’t as exciting to draft.
Dare Ogunbowale, TB - Ogunbowale has the most momentum of any Bucs back, and even boring old Jacquizz Rodgers had five games of four or more receptions last year. Ogunbowale is free in drafts and could be a lot more involved in Week 1 than anyone expects with no one exactly seizing this backfield and the best passing game skill set.
Chris Thompson, WAS - He’s been consistent enough in PPR leagues when healthy, it’s just the “when healthy” part that is the problem. Washington should use him a lot with not much to offer in the downfield passing game.
Darwin Thompson, KC, Justice Hill, BAL - This duo should be part of any draft plan, although you’ll have to pay. To take Pollard you likely miss out on one, so if you want to get really greedy, aim for the moon in high-stakes or best-ball championship contests, go for the rookie with more potential staying power having a surge that intersects with Elliott’s return. Thompson could get enough work to be a flex-worthy player and begins with the Jaguars - a defense that makes sense to attack at linebacker in the passing game - and Hill gets Miami, which portends garbage time opportunity. Either can cause their coaches to rethink the backfield split with a good game.